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Wayne State College Tests Emergency Communications Capabilities

 

WAYNE, Neb. (Dec. 11, 2007) – Wayne State College conducted a test of its emergency paging systems Dec. 4 on the college campus. Wayne State Professor Jason Karsky, Wayne County Emergency Manager Deanna Beckman, and students from Karsky’s emergency planning classes helped plan and conduct the drill.

 

The Wayne State disaster planning group, co-led by Beth Kroger, vice president of administration and finance, and Curt Frye, vice president of student affairs, had three objectives for the evening: test the available notification systems on campus including MIR 3 notification system, the college Web site and departmental calling trees; mobilize all tier one and tier two individuals and have them respond to their appropriate posts; and verify successful communication between the Crisis Management Team (CMT) and Campus Incident Commanders.

 

“This test was designed to gauge our ability to get vital information to key crisis management personnel in the event of an emergency,” Kroger said. “Our next test will evaluate our ability to alert our students in a crisis.”

 

The MIR 3 notification system, which provides rapid communications to the college’s faculty, staff and students in an emergency, worked well during the scenario. CMT mobilized quickly when word was received regarding a “mock gunman” on campus who had taken hostages in Connell Hall. Communication between the CMT and the Incident Commander was established quickly and worked well.

 

“I believe the exercise has drawn our attention to the benefits of planning,” Frye said. “The knowledge gained from the event will assist us to refine our plans and help prepare us to better communicate and cooperate with agencies and entities outside of the college.”

 

The drill scenario involved coordination between the exercise planners, local law enforcement personnel and several evaluators who observed many aspects of the drill onsite to provide feedback regarding the actions of emergency personnel dealing with the gunman scenario.

 

Notification of the entire campus community is the key to managing any crisis affecting the College’s students, personnel or facilities. Wayne State’s crisis communications plan integrates many outlets into a unified notification platform to provide immediate alerts regarding threats to the safety and welfare of the campus community.

 

These outlets are pager groups, popup messages on campus network computers, voice mail, public address capability inside campus buildings through the campus fire alarm system, e-mail, television kiosks, the Wayne State College Web site, and the Wayne State radio and television stations.

 

This was the first of many tests the college plans to ensure Wayne State is prepared to meet its first priority: to protect and safeguard human life. In the fall of 2006, the college began to revise its policies and procedures in regard to responses to emergencies on or near the campus.

 

Wayne State has long had in place specific contingency plans related to natural disasters and other disruptions of campus life. The college continues to refine those plans based on external factors such as pandemic flu and other threats to the safety and well-being of our community, such as the unfortunate events at Virginia Tech in April.

 

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